Al Qaeda's newest tactic: Philanthropy?

According to witnesses and photographs from the event, he was surrounded by masked gunmen wearing clean, white vests like aid workers. Mr. Almuhajir presided over mounds of donated grain, in sacks marked “Al Qaeda campaign on behalf of Martyr Bin Laden. Charity relief for those affected by the drought.”

Stranger still, Mr. Almuhajir’s skin was white (his plaid scarf popped open in a few places) and he spoke perfect English, with an American accent. He said that “brothers in Al Qaeda” had brought grain, powdered milk and dates for the famine victims and that Mr. Zawahri had sent him to Somalia with a message of greetings and sympathy…

The episode raises the question: what exactly is Al Qaeda these days? Is it a philosophy that anyone can claim to represent? Or is it a centrally organized group that sends emissaries on public relations missions to places like Somalia? Is the mysterious Mr. Almuhajir really a representative or just a Qaeda pretender?

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